The Pilbara - the great northwest

This rugged region is home to one of the world’s most ancient geological attractions, stunning island peninsulas, beaches, underwater gardens and untamed wilderness

The Pilbara dates back more than two billion years and is over 400,000 sq km, which is twice the size of the United Kingdom. This largely remote and undisturbed natural landscape is set against modern industrial sites – and it is this contrast that sets it apart from any other region in Australia. 

Getting to the Pilbara

As the Pilbara is quite remote, the best way to get there is by air with flights to either Port Hedland, Paraburdoo, Karratha, or Newman (via Perth).

Best things to see and do in the Pilbara

The Pilbara region is vast and there are many top attractions to visit when exploring this part of Western Australia. Popular spots on visitor must-see lists include Karijini National Park, Hamersley Gorge, Millstream-Chichester National Park and Burrup Peninsula.

Karijini National Park waterhole
Hamersley Gorge

Karijini National Park Day tour

Explore Aboriginal culture, pastoral and mining histories, geology, and wildlife as you travel through the stunning Hamersley Range to the entrance of the Karijini National Park. View the ancient land formations of the Weano, Joffre and Dales Gorge areas including Oxer Lookout, a towering but safe cliff face overlooking the junction.

Hamersley Gorge and Spa Pool tours

Located in the northwest corner of Karijini National Park, Hamersley Gorge is the most remote of the gorges. On the descent into the gorge, you can clearly see how the layers of rock bent and buckled before they pushed their way to the surface more than 2.5 billion years ago. At the base of the gorge, take a dip in the delightful gorge pool and relax in the shade of the trees.

Staircase to the moon

Seeing this natural phenomenon will leave you breathless! It occurs when a full moon is rising across the exposed tidal flats, creating the impression of a staircase leading up to the moon.

Cossack – Ghost town

Cossack was originally a port for early pastoralists in the Pilbara and of huge importance in the 1880s and 1890s. After the development of the Port Samson jetty, the town gradually became deserted and was finally abandoned by the 1950s. This ghost town is filled with beautifully restored bluestone buildings and is worth a visit particularly if you’re interested in the history of this township.

Tom Price – highest town above sea level

The town of Tom Price is the highest town above sea level in Western Australia. It’s a picturesque town within the Hamersley Ranges and is the perfect place to stay if you’re exploring the Karijini or Millstream Chichester National Parks.

Lookout in Karijini National Park
Lookout in Karijini National Park

Marble Bar – hottest town in the country

Marble Bar is a famous outback town dating back to the gold rush days. It was also named Australia’s hottest town when it broke all weather records in 1923 – 1924 when it recorded 161 consecutive days with temperatures above 37.8 degrees.

Dampier Archipelago

If you love boating, fishing, snorkelling and camping, the Dampier Archipelago off the coast of the Pilbara is a coastal and marine wonder that you should spend a few days exploring. It’s also a nesting site for a variety of turtles and dolphins, manta rays and dugongs are often spotted in crystal clear waters.  

Rock Art in Murujuga National Park, Karratha

Karratha is the regional centre of the Pilbara and definitely worth a visit, to see Murujuga National Park, which has the largest amount of Indigenous rock art in the world! Millstream-Chichester National Park is known as an oasis in the desert and should also be on our must-visit list if you love hiking and bird-watching.

Walking Trails in the Pilbara

Pack your daypack, pull on your hiking boots and head out on one of the many popular walking trails in the Pilbara. Exploring on foot is a great way to take in your surroundings and Weano Gorge (Handrail Pool), Dales Gorge Campground, Roebourne Heritage Trail, 6 Mile Creek, Gregory Gorge and the Ngurin Bush Tucker Trail are all favourite trails for avid explorers.

Karijini National Park walking trails
Karijini National Park walking trails


Karratha, an Aboriginal word meaning “good country”, is a city in the Pilbara region near the port of Dampier. Karratha is referred to as the western gateway to the Pilbara. It’s a thriving town with many accommodation options and is locally known as the shopping hub of the region.

Places to stay in the Pilbara

There are a variety of accommodation options to make your base if you’re spending time exploring the Pilbara. Popular places with visitors include Tom Price Tourist Park, Karijini Eco Retreat and Dales Gorge Campground.

For something completely different to enhance your visit to this region, you can stay on a working cattle station at Cheela Plains, Peedamulla or Pardoo Station Stays.

Port Headland is approximately 350km drive to Karijini, so not an ideal base if you want to spend a few days exploring Karijini National Park, however, it’s a good option if you want to spend time in a location with more tourist options before or after your outback adventure.

Karijini Eco Retreat tent

Explore ancient landscapes

Looking to do an epic outback road trip with a difference? Something that you can brag about to your kids and grandkids. The Pilbara in the northern part of Western Australia is your answer. It is a unique region to explore and is the oldest known landscape on Earth, estimated to be more than 2.5 billion years old. The Pilbara has some of the most stunning ancient landscapes in Australia and is a unique part of Australia to explore if you are seeking a vast and expansive natural wonderland.

This area has a rich Aboriginal cultural history; ancient landscapes; deep, rusty red earth landscapes; and vast mineral deposits, in particular iron ore.